THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO KEEP YOU AFLOAT
My pockets were always good pockets, and empty
of the things that would condemn me. When I ran
the streets it was with purpose. I was never afraid
of the ball, even when it came smashing through
my windshield on the freeway. It wasn’t a ball.
It was my neighbor’s head, and there was no car,
just a canoe on its side. You can’t paddle it that
way. They called me the queen of portage. Stood
me at the edge of the dock and said go. Permitted
thirty seconds for a full contemplation before: go.
Only tied cinderblocks on when I deserved them.
Everyone knew how much I fancied a challenge.
We had no mountain to go tell it on. Instead just
acre upon acre of dead barns and their wet thighs.
My mother cut the pockets out of my pants, shut
the seams with glue. We spoke of this no more.
PICTURESQUE RENDERING TRANSLATED
INTO AMATEURISH CLIP ART
We liked what we liked and we liked
hard. We were constituted of eighty-five percent
gloss, fifteen percent matte. We knew
how to squat, and we also had no idea how to
snake a drain, but we were colorless
and nearly odorless. We shook hands but never
looked anyone in the eye. Everything
was so symbolic. I have caught this fish, or, how
violently I salute the flag above me.
I did not build this log cabin, but my forefathers
died of starvation on a ferry only half-
way to their destination, so here is my blue ribbon
for, you know, almost making it. We
loved to make it. Sometimes in a congested parking
facility. Other times right there in front
of the very obvious memorial, serving to remind all
that stone is heavy. We only had reverse
tan lines. Our scanties were more modest than our
dungarees. Often we had no idea where
the horizon started. The trees were just an errant
clump of ink. Somebody had omitted
my left hand, but you always knew where to put it.